Saturday 13 March 2010

An island monastery

This is a special place, not least because the island is often cut off during the winter.  The 2 km (just over a mile) crossing is surprisingly dangerous. However, for such a small place it packs in an amazing amount of history.

The text on the card, which was sent to me inside a book during 2005, says
Monks have lived and worked on Caldey Island for 1,500 years.  The original Welsh name of Ynys Pyr - the island of Pyro, preserves the name of the first abbot from the 6th century.  The abbey building was erected between 1910-1913 by an Anglican Benedictine Brotherhood under Dom Aelred Carlyle.  Growing financial problems in the 1920s led to the monastery and the island being sold to the present owners - the Catholic order of Reformed Cistercians.  The advance party of monks from the new mother house at Chimay in Belgium settled into residence on Caldey in January, 1929.

The interior of the monastery is in keeping with the Cistercian tradition of simplicity and austerity. The focal point of the daily lives of the monks is the abbey church where, wearing their traditional habits, they gather for seven services each day.
On the island is a Norman church with a 6th century floor, a 6th century cross, and a 12th century church.  It is an ancient place.


  1. I imagine it's still an operating monastery today. Or am I wrong?

  2. You are quite right, it is still a working monastery where they run retreats. I wanted to link to their website but it doesn't seem to be working.


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